Saturday, May 31, 2008

More On Beauty. Or... Moron Beauty.

*NOTE*: I don't believe I possess the sum of all knowledge on this topic, so I'm very interested in your contributions to this discussion. However, I'm not looking for opinions only (although those are welcome)... I really want to know what scripture says about this. I want my beliefs to be shaped by God's word, not what's considered "normal." If I'm missing something or off somewhere, please let me know why you think I'm out of line scripturally. The stated purpose for all this discussion is not to provide a platform for my opinions, but because I'm going to be speaking on this topic and really want to make sure my statements are grounded in Truth.

The man thread brought about a good discussion in the comments section. You can check it out here. Feel free to add your own comments! Here are some of my additional thoughts, untamed as usual (hah!):

- In every friend circle I’ve had since high school, amazing godly women were never asked out because there was one girl in the group who was the most beautiful and all the guys spent their time crushing on her or took turns dating her. Often (but not always) she was not a woman of strong character. It makes me think those guys are, quite frankly, spiritually immature (or maybe I'm just judgmental).

- I've heard countless guys say, "I want to marry the most beautiful woman in the room" or "in the world" or "that I've ever seen." I've never heard a man say, “I want to marry the most godly woman I know” or “the wisest woman” or “the woman with the best personality.” But in 5 minutes, there will be someone more beautiful. Things will start to sag and wrinkle, and it will all go away. If your relationship is founded on this, it is much more likely to fail. In fact, since many godly men view women through the same paradigm as worldly men, it’s no wonder our divorce rate stacks up the same.

- Proverbs warns again and again about marrying a quarrelsome woman. It doesn’t say “woe to the man who marries an ugly chick… sucks to be you.” Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, expounds on a litany of desirable traits in Proverbs 31. His only mention of beauty? He calls it vain. He goes on to say “a wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…” Noble character... Not big boobs.

- In the New Testament, Peter talks about feminine beauty pretty specifically. Here's what he says the focus should be: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." That verse isn't just for women... it's a signpost for men.

Listen... every woman wants to be considered beautiful to her husband, so I’m not suggesting that women abandon all efforts to improve their appearance (for crying out loud, no!!!) or that men marry women that they find unattractive. Here's my suggestion:

- Women, make Peter's words your theme!

- Men, try praying that God would help you to be drawn with the fire of a thousand suns toward character and godliness
, and to not be led astray by physical beauty. May you find a woman whose physical beauty is the icing on the cake.

What can you add to the conversation? I welcome your agreement or rebuttal. Bring it! :)

~TLC

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whatta Man... Whatta Mighty Good Man

Dear Men:

I started with the fairer sex, now let me hit up the stronger sex (that’s you, by the way). Here are a few things that someone else should probably be telling you, but since you asked… I’m answering. In the same way I approached the ladies, I will address the top three things I’ve noticed as problems in the lives of men I know and the way they approach women/relationships.

1. Find out who God is…. Then find out who you are.
This is the same as the problem with the women, but the fallout is much different. When women don’t know who they are, they tend to become manipulative and controlling (this can manifest itself as being either dependent or independent), but when men don’t know who they are, they tend to become passive. (By the way, it might help to read the previous blog first, because it will help you to see the differences in the way I’m addressing this.) While women need to understand their relationship with God, it seems that men have a greater need to understand their purpose with God… to find the thing He has called them to, the plan that He has for them. Without any knowledge of who He is, it’s hard to know how to throw yourself headlong in the direction He’s calling you to. Dig deep in the scriptures. Seek out mentors who are wiser than you. Find the thing that reminds you of His joy, the thing that makes you feel alive, the thing that challenges you in your walk with the Lord… and chase it!

2. Get your head on straight.
Mostly, your eyes. Don’t pat yourself on the back just because you don’t look at naked girls online (although let’s be honest – that’s unlikely), because you’re still probably scoping out the shapes and lines of every woman who walks past you. Stop it. She is not your wife. And you are setting yourself and your wife up for tragedy. One of my favorite pastors (Matt Chandler) said it best, “Some of you godly young men are going to have to watch your first marriages entirely disintegrate. Your life will be destroyed because of your addiction to feeding your eyes.” Greg Pinkner follows up, “If you walk into a room and automatically look for the prettiest girl, there is something wrong with you.” My guess is that applies to most of you. Every guy wants to marry the prettiest girl in the room, but if you have a room full of 10 guys and 10 girls, each guy is probably going to think the same girl is the prettiest. So who marries the other 9? I’m not saying you shouldn’t be attracted to your wife—that’s vital. But maybe your perspective needs to be shifted slightly. Here is a good article on the subject and three teaser quotes to get you motivated. Take 5 minutes and read it. By the way, it was written by a man.

“…if the physical or personal is entirely (or mainly) what attracts you and these are your highest priorities, then your problem is not with the women around you. Your problem is with God.”

“No one in his right mind ever marries a woman he doesn't find beautiful. And it's no different with Jesus. Except for one problem. We aren't attractive. In our sin and rebellion, we are downright ugly. So what's up with Jesus?”

“Whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not, you are a creator of beauty in the women around you.”


While I challenged the women to want more from men in the area of spirituality, I’m challenging the men to want less from women in the area of her appearance. This is one area that I truly feel we’ve welcomed society’s standards and haven’t even checked ourselves. Starve your eyes, men. Starve. And when you marry an amazing woman one day, you’ll be surprised at how beautiful she is to you, in part because you won’t have spent the time between now and then accumulating millions of other images to compare her to.

3. Game ON!
A few of you asked me about how to pursue a woman in the right way. I will speak from my own experience here. I’ve been pursued blatantly without it being righteous. And I’ve been pursued righteously without it being blatant. You really need to possess both qualities. The first camp (blatant but not righteous) are the guys who know nothing about me other than what they’ve discerned from across the room, from the stage, from whatever I wrote in my blog or on my Facebook page. Their lack of knowledge of me as a real human being gives them a distance that feels promising. From the safety of their computer screen, they can imagine me to be all the wonderful things they want in a woman. They project perfection onto me. So they move in for the kill, hoping to attain all those things for themselves. They do not know me, and their pursuit is not righteous. Then there are those who pursue righteously – who know me and have their priorities straight and who would actually be good candidates – but they sit idly by, dropping hints, flirting but never being bold. Once in my life (ONCE!) I’ve been pursued by a man who managed to handle it properly. He cared about all the right qualities AND he was upfront about his intentions. There was no guessing, no uncertainty on my part. From the moment he started pursuing me, I knew exactly where I stood with him. It was incredible. Men, it’s time to man up… I know you’ve got it in you.

All right, bring on the hate mail. Hah!
~TLC

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

99 Problems

To paraphrase the old adage: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, blog.” That explains why I, a very single person, am blogging about men, women, and relationships. Take everything you read here with an entire shaker of salt. Today I’ll focus on the top three problems I’ve witnessed in women I know as well as in my own life. Women, these are things we can work on. Men, these are things you can look for.

1. Find out who God is… then find out who you are.
Geez, this is a big one, right? It’s pretty much a life-long deal. The main thing, though, is to believe that God wants a relationship with you. If you already know Him, you can trust that He has your best interest at heart and that He is not holding out on you. In fact, He is working to make everything work together for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28), including your sin, your pain, your mistakes. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that He loves me so much, but when I manage to get it even in the slightest way, it changes the way I view my life. Suddenly I don’t have to strive and scrape to make life be what I want it to be… I am free to trust Him, free to live and walk with Him wherever He calls me. And in this freedom, I find the fullness of who He is and the fullness of who I am. I don’t have to try so hard to impress others, because my life isn’t centered on their approval – it’s founded on the unchanging holiness and goodness of God. Easier said than done, especially in a world of thin, blond specimens with fair skin and radiant smiles. Maybe you didn’t hit the genetic lottery, but there is so much more to you than that. In fact, your appearance is the part of you that will fade the fastest – so find out what’s underneath all that… and attach it to what you know of Him.

2. Tend your garden.
I have a beautiful friend who is a devastated wreck of a woman. She was wounded by a man, then by another, then another. And it’s like a tornado came through her life and ripped out everything good. The ground is cracked and dry. Honestly, she isn’t even trying to heal. She’s clinging to her bitterness as though it were her lifeblood. It is the most unattractive thing I can think of. The tragic juxtaposition of her physical beauty and the state of her heart sends people running—men and women both. Ladies, your life is a garden. You can either spend your time living in the devastation, or you can get down to the hard business of healing and planting and tending. There's so much more to this than I have space to address, especially since I can’t even begin to tackle the pain of abuse or divorce or loss of a child… but the main thing I'm hoping to leave you with is this: every day we have the choice to either sit on the barren soil or make the tiniest step to develop the garden. Maybe some days you can't even breathe and all you have the strength to do is to offer up a prayer for rain. Our God is a Healer – it’s one of His names (Jehovah-Rapha). It may take some serious time and effort, but He longs to heal you and turn your life into a lush, lavish garden, overflowing with beauty and joy and the fragrance of God!! What person doesn't want that for their own life - a radiant, colorful testimony to God's goodness? What other women wouldn’t be drawn into a friendship with that kind of woman? And what man wouldn’t be attracted to that?

3. Don’t let just anyone into it.
Let me be clear here right off the bat: Stop dating guys who aren’t Christians. Stop it. And seriously, stop dating guys who aren’t deeply in love with Jesus. It’s not enough that he goes to church or that he believes in God or that he has a cross tattoo. I don’t care. If his life and choices and decisions aren’t founded on the active, passionate pursuit of the glory of God, it’s time for you to expect more from yourself and from him. How can you tell if a guy is walking with Christ? Check out John 15:5 - “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.” How can you believe that God wants more for you than some crappy relationship with a pseudo Christian? Ephesians 3:20 says that He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Every day that you persist in wasting your time is a day that your deepest joy will be stolen.

Surely there are some of you who will disagree with what I've said here. Feel free to hit me up in the comments!

Much love,
TLC

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day by day...

I just wrapped up the greatest birthday of my life. So easy and light and beautiful... conversations with depth and joy and laughter. Sunlight and breezes and West Village streets and Central Park grass.

Thank you all so much for your well-wishes. God accomplished them today, and I am overjoyed!

Much love,
~TLC:)

P.S. The fact that I am easily pleased doesn't diminish how awesome this day was. It was really over-the-top incredible. Thanks, God!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

FOUND!!

Two things:

1. Please join me in a celebration over the recovery of my lost Moleskine. It was, after all, behind my friend Meredith's bed. Tonight she placed it in my trembling hands. I'm never letting it out of my sight again.

2. Please forgive me for my delay in blogging about men, women, and relationships. It's coming, I promise. Right now I'm trying to sort through the email questions (AHEM... I notice that no one left questions in the comments but you all emailed me with them. How brave of you. Hah! Kidding!) I've been taken up with a few other projects this week, and I will commence blogging about men and women soon.

I dig you guys so much.

xoxo,
TLC:)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Things to come...

Over the next week, I'm going to do a lot of blogging about women, men, and relationships. This is due in part to the fact that I've been asked to speak on the topic, and I want to get your feedback about my commentary so that I don't end up saying anything stupid. Hah! :)

If there's anything in particular that you'd like me to address, you can leave it in the comments or write me a personal note:

tlc at tara leigh cobble dot com

Have a stellar day!
~TLC

Monday, May 05, 2008

Whatever befalls us...

"Whatever befalls us, however it befalls us, we must receive it as the will of God. If it befalls us through man's negligence or ill-will or anger, still it is, in even the least circumstance, to us the will of God. For if the least thing could happen to us without God's permission, it would be something out of God's control. God's providence or his love would not be what they are. Almighty God Himself would not be the same God; not the God whom we believe, adore, and love."

- Mary Wilder Tileston, Daily Strength for Daily Needs

This is easier to hear and believe when things are going well. But I've found it more crucial to believe when I'm struggling, when I'm waiting, when I'm hurting. One of the most crucial things of the Christian walk (for mine, at least) is actively believing in His unceasing goodness to me, no matter the circumstances. Lord, help me to be unwavering... not in my hope of what things You'll do for me, but in my pursuit of YOU as the ultimate.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Old Pages

Today I found an old journal. I love that I have documentation of the following events:

10.19.03 -- NYC
(note: this was my second time to ever visit NYC)
Maybe I feel a little bit like this City... like I am somewhat intriguing and mysterious, but only from a distance. Only if you are looking at the skyline in a photograph or from the bridges that surround it. And then once you get close to it in real life, it is overwhelming, unattractive, all horns and sirens, cold and harsh.

But this is a lie. First of all, my heart is good. I know this because God gave me a new heart when He redeemed me and He said that it is good. When I read "Waking the Dead," I knew that I needed to be awakened, that God's truth needed to dictate my perspective instead of the lies that Satan sneaks into my world so frequently.

And second, this City is stunning. Even up close, even from the inside, even from the concrete. Maybe even more so. I have never known another city like it...


------

11.09.03 -- Houston
(note: although I was touring in Houston, I still lived in Nashville)
I'm begging for Your direction in my life. Part of me feels like I might not be meant for Nashville much longer. Maybe this is nothing, but...

------

But maybe not! Hah!! (For the record, I moved to NYC a year later.)

Mostly, though, the journal had a theme: there was a lot of waiting. Waiting for sanctification, waiting for understanding, waiting for action, waiting for healing. Waaaaaiting. And so I wrote this today at the end of my journal:

This lesson will be life-long, but You are so gracious to strengthen my muscles and my faith - to teach me the gentle art of waiting, of keeping a quiet heart. It's hard, You know, to wait for a God who wears no watch... to try to discern the timing of a King who is somehow both in every moment but also beyond time itself.

I read these old entries filled with stories of my brokenness, my mistakes, my damned relentless hope, but mostly of Your goodness and Your guidance and the nights you carried my broken body to the foot of Your cross. Where I belong. There really is no end to Your love for me, is there? Even as I sit waiting... yesterday, today, tomorrow... You sit beside me smiling, knowing that You will walk with me through all the waiting left to do. Until You finally carry me Home.

And honestly, as much as I curse it and am bruised by it, please know that I love the relentless hope You've given me. You are beautiful, so sweet to me, so tender in the waiting...

Your love for me makes me giddy. Absolutely giddy.